Liraglutide, a drug that is used to lower blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetes patients, can have a deteriorating influence on cells that produce insulin, leading to an increase in blood sugar levels, say a new study.
This has been claimed by researchers at Karolinska Institute in Sweden and University of Miami in the US, who conducted a study on mice implanted with human insulin-producing cells.
Blood sugar suppressors in the form of analogues of the incretin hormone GLP-1 are generally used to treat type-2 diabetes as they stimulate the glucose response of the pancreatic beta cells to make them secrete more insulin.
There is evidence that liraglutide therapy is effective in the short term as it produces an initial reduction in blood sugar. However, not all patients respond to the treatment, with some even displaying adverse reactions like nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
The humanised mice for the study were generated by transplanting the anterior eye chamber of mice with human insulin-producing cells. To study the long-term effect of the incretin therapy, these mice were administered a daily dose of liraglutide for more than 250 days and the effect on the pancreatic beta cells was monitored by researchers during this time.
The result was an initial improvement in the insulin-producing cells that was followed by a gradual exhaustion, with reduced secretion of insulin as a response to glucose. This according to the researchers was unexpected.
Midhat Abdulreda of University of Miami Miller School of medicine stated: “Given the lack of clinical studies on the long-term effect of these drugs in diabetes patients, this is a very important discovery.”
The possible consequences of this form of therapy will be detailed by the researchers in the forthcoming issue of the journal, Cell Metabolism.